It was clear from William Hague’s statement in the Commons just now that no decisions have been taken on what to do about Ukraine. The Foreign Secretary had already distanced himself from that photographed document when he faced MPs at Foreign Office Questions a little earlier this morning, saying that it didn’t necessarily reflect the action the government would take. The government’s options ‘remain open’, he said.
It’s worth considering Labour’s response to the situation. Douglas Alexander struck a consensual tone when he responded at Foreign Office Questions, but some of his colleagues including Kevin Brennan were quite keen to tease out a response to the tweets over the weekend by Sajid Javid and Nick Boles suggesting there was a clear link between Ed Miliband’s opposition to intervention in Syria and Vladimir Putin’s behaviour now. But while Brennan seemed to be criticising the partisan nature of those tweets at a time of international crisis, Labour’s Helen Goodman fell into that same partisan trap, suggesting that human rights campaigners in Ukraine had told her that the UK was reluctant to impose sanctions because the Conservative party had accepted money from Russian donors. Hague just about managed to contain his disdain for this question, but it shows the danger for both sides of falling into point-scoring over foreign policy. Alexander did warn of the dangers of retreating into neo-isolationism, but ventured no further down that road.